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Title: Exhibitionary Forms in Ireland: James Joyce’s Exhibits of Irish Modernity
Authors: Gefter Wondrich, Roberta
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Roberta Gefter Wondrich, "Exhibitionary Forms in Ireland: James Joyce’s Exhibits of Irish Modernity", in: Guido Abbattista (edited by), “Moving Bodies, Displaying Nations National Cultures, Race and Gender in World Expositions Nineteenth to Twenty-first Century”, Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2014, pp. 89-119
The Great Exhibition of 1851 marked the beginning of a bond between capitalism,
consumer culture, the emergent advertising and the imperial ideology of England
that would consolidate its hold not only economically but semiotically well into the
early twentieth century. Within the new ‘scopic’ sense of the Empire promoted by the International Exhibitions in the British context, the specificity of Ireland as internal
colony and emancipating nation is worth considering.
The 1907 Dublin International Exhibition, in spite of its success, failed to elicit a
strong interest on the part of Irish artists and intellectuals, at a peak time in the history of
cultural nationalism championed by the Celtic Revival movement, with the two notable
exceptions of novelist Bram Stoker and, to a lesser degree, of playwright John Millington
Synge. The first part of the essay considers the cultural implications of the expositions
in Ireland and the 1907 Dublin Exhibition in the light of the defining trope of the core-periphery
relationship. The second and main part of this study focuses on what appears
to be one of the most interesting and articulate textualizations of the “exhibitionary
complex” in Irish – and English – literary culture, which should rather be ascribed, it
is my contention, to the work of James Joyce, notably in Dubliners and Ulysses. This
applies to the distinctively Irish minor expository form of the (Orientalist) bazaar (the
Araby and Mirus bazaars, respectively in Dubliners and Ulysses), the phantasmagoria of
commodity culture, the ubiquity and the spectacle of the imported colonial commodities
as an instance of cultural imperialism, the consumption of Orientalist images as an
escapist rather than imperialist fantasy, the nexus between the ephemeral expository
space and erotic degradation, the museum (“Lestrygonians”), the press and advertising
(“Aeolus”), the monumentary apparatus of the city (“Wandering Rocks”), the Victorian
seaside resort indirectly evoked as a sexualized space of leisure (“Nausicaa”), the pageant
of colonial Ireland’s efforts of technical and scientific progress satirised in “Ithaca”, and,
finally, the very idea of the modern city as exhibition.
Type: Book Chapter
ISBN: 9788883035821
eISBN: 9788883034923
Appears in Collections:Moving Bodies, Displaying Nations. National Cultures, Race and Gender in World Expositions 19th to 21st Century

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